MERIDEN — An April 19 shooting on South First Street stemmed from a dispute over gang affiliation, according to an arrest warrant made available Thursday.
Justin Diaz, 29, of Meriden, made his first court appearance Thursday after being taken into custody in New York City by the NYPD Violent Fugitive Task Force on May 16 and later extradited to Connecticut.
Diaz faces charges of first-degree assault, carrying a pistol without a permit, unlawful discharge of a firearm, and criminal use of a firearm.
The case will be transferred to New Haven Superior Court, with the next court date scheduled for June 11. Bond for Diaz was originally set at $250,000, but Superior Court Judge Gerald Harmon on Thursday raised it to $500,000, calling the allegations against Diaz in an arrest warrant “serious.”
Diaz also has a pending case for a DUI charge and motor vehicle-related offenses, according to statements made in court.
Justin Diaz arrest warrant.
According to the warrant, a juvenile witness told police that Diaz shot 34-year-old Jan Carlos Delacruz after the two got into an argument “about who was a real Latin King or not.” The two began arguing inside Mr. Bentley’s Cafe, at 190 Grove St., and later at Sam’s Food Store, 343 W. Main St., according to the warrant.
A juvenile witness, who is friends with the victim, said she and Delacruz went inside a garage at a home at 57 S. First St. with about 15 other people. Diaz, the warrant alleges, arrived at the garage a short time later and continued arguing face to face with Delacruz, eventually producing a handgun and shooting at Delacruz seven times. Diaz then fled out the garage door and ran toward Hanover Street, the warrant said.
Another witness also told police she saw Diaz walk up the driveway at 57 S. First St. toward the garage and heard gunshots shortly after. The witness said she met Diaz for the first time at Mr. Bentley’s the night of the shooting and she drove him from Mr. Bentley’s to Sam’s Food Store and later from the food store to the area of Kensington Avenue, where she dropped him off. The witness then drove to 57 S. First St. to attend an after-party, where Diaz arrived shortly after.
Officers responded to 57 S. First St. at around 2:30 a.m. on April 19 and found Delacruz laying on his back in the driveway with multiple gunshot wounds. Delacruz was transported to Hartford Hospital with life-threatening injuries. Officers attempted to speak with Delacruz at Hartford Hospital on April 25, but he did not cooperate, the warrant said.
The night of the shooting, officers initially responded to reports of a fight involving Diaz at 126 Foster St. at around 1:10 a.m. Officers encountered and detained three subjects, including Diaz, and let the subjects go following a brief investigation.
Diaz does not have a permit to carry pistols or revolvers in Connecticut, according to the warrant.
Delacruz has prior convictions for drug sales and possession and second degree threatening, according to the state Judicial Branch website.
Read more articles like this and help support local journalism by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access just 99¢
Read more articles like this by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access for just 99¢